Complete coverage of Texas' record heat wave of 2011

Columbia Artifact Found in Drought-Stricken Lake

By Frank Heinz
|  Thursday, Aug 4, 2011  |  Updated 10:46 AM CDT
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Object Found in Lake is From Columbia

Nacogdoches Police Department

Found object may be from the Columbia disaster.

OK. So maybe the drought has been good for something. Thanks to high heat and low lake levels, Nacogdoches authorities have located what has turned out to be material from Space Shuttle Columbia in the northern end of Lake Nacogdoches.

“The lower water level has exposed a larger than normal area on the northern side of the lake,” said NPD Sgt. Greg Sowell. “A large round object became visible, and it is very possible that it is part of Columbia.”

As it turns out, it was from the shuttle.

Officials with the Nacogdoches police took pictures of the object, described as being 4-feet in diameter and full of mud, and sent them off to NASA.

NASA said it was a tank that was part of the shuttle's electrical system.  The artifact will be sent to Kennedy Space Center in Florida where other Columbia debris is stored.

As lake levels continue to decline, it's possible that more debris may be spotted. Anyone that see's anything questionable is asked not to touch the material and to notify local law enforcement.

“We want to remind everyone that the rules are the same as they were back in 2003. If this object is indeed a part of the shuttle, it is government property, and it is a criminal offense to tamper with it,” Sowell said.  

Columbia broke-up on re-entry over North Texas in February 2003, killing seven astronauts and leaving a trail of debris from North Texas to Louisiana.

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